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10 Common Parenting Mistakes to Avoid

July 14, 2022 16:24 IST

It's normal to want to protect children from the pain of making mistakes, but children need to make mistakes to grow, become resilient.
Overprotective parenting leads to oversensitive adults, a dependency on the parents for decisions and unable to work under stress, observes Dr Aarti Bakshi.

Kindly note the image has been posted only for representational purposes. Photograph: Kind courtesy Soha Ali Khan/Instagram

Parenting is on-the-job training; it has no college degrees and no fast-track courses.

You become a parent and are responsible for the bundle of joy completely.

It sure can be a nerve-wracking experience -- especially if you are worried that you will not do everything right.

But you are only human, and you will make parenting mistakes.

Remind yourself that you are not alone. Every parent makes mistakes.

A few mistakes can be avoided if you know what to watch-out for. It will enhance your chances to be an effective parent.

Here, we look at common parenting mistakes and a few hacks to help us work through parenting pitfalls:

1. Being overprotective

Being excessively protective makes a parent eager to protect their children from harm, hurt and pain, unhappiness, bad experiences, rejection, failure, and disappointments.

In the quest to be overly supportive, you end up managing the child’s friendships and conflicts too.

Usually avoiding reality discourages a child from taking risks. The child is unaware of being supportive of household chores.

Overprotective parenting leads to oversensitive adults, a dependency on the parents for decisions and unable to work under stress.

2. Neglecting to set boundaries

Some tight schedules are needed for bringing up children who can manage time.

Sleeping schedule, eating time, and technology restrictions are a must.

No eating in front of the television, sleeping at a particular time, temper tantrums should be handled consistently by all family members.

When the child realises that there would be no discrepancy between all trusted adults verdicts on his/her requests then, the pushing of boundaries stop.

This means the child would not ask another trusted adult the same thing as sleeping later or watching more television, if he/she realises that the answer would be similar.

Children are great psychologists and have been known to use all techniques to get their way around.

Your baby may not have come with instructions, but there are plenty of books, Web sites, and people that can help guide you through the challenges of parenting.

Your paediatrician can be helpful when you face difficult or persistent problems.

3. Name calling

Parents are human and parenting takes a lot of energy. It is a full-time exhaustive job.

Sometimes when a child is throwing a tantrum, the siblings fight or the noise levels are dangerously loud and annoying, name-calling by parents can happen.

Frustration builds up and a parent may feel helpless at that moment, anger gets out of control and loose words, aggressive tone or yells may happen.

Taking support from another trusted adult, giving yourself a break, calming down through mindfulness, relaxing, sleeping, music, etc may be an appropriate way to support yourself.

A calm happy parent would handle and respond to a situation and refrain from reacting.

4. Comparison

When we as parents get over ambitious for our child, and we expect that by comparison, the child will be motivated we are doing a disservice.

Comparing a child with other children, siblings, cousins, or peers s can have the opposite effect and the child who is being compared may feel low as it may hurt their self-esteem.

Self-confidence also gets affected and instead of being motivated the child may give up the task or skill.

5. Excessive criticism

Children who are overtly criticised always internalise criticism, taking it to heart and sometimes sustain lasting emotional wounds.

Choices have power.

Criticisism by a loved and trusted adult is a power play.

Parents criticise a child because they want to have control over the child’s choices.

The child feels bad and gets influenced to even forget their own choice and go with their parents more often resulting in second guessing themselves, not being self-aware of their own likes and dislikes, their strengths and unable to set goals or achieve them.

6. Having unrealistic expectations

Expectations and a child's developmental level must coincide. If as a parent, we expect unrealistic expectations in academics, sports, and behaviour, then we are helping the children and us feel disappointed.

Unrealistic perfection leads children to seek validation, as well as struggle with low levels of self-worth.

Children wish to be accepted and acknowledged by their parents and feel as if they have let their parents down if they fail to accomplish what they feel their parents expect of them.

They also may develop negative beliefs about themselves as not being 'good enough.' It can even lead them to develop anxiety or constant need for validation.

7. Communication flaws

Communication is words, active listening, body language and tones used.

When listening to a child, we as parents are supporting their thoughts and feelings in a way that they are important to us and that their opinions and words matter.

This helps to build stronger relationship skills. Self-esteem is affected when parents do not listen to what the child wants to convey.

When children feel disappointed they seek other people's approval.

In this way, we create people pleasers.

8. Being inconsistent

Strict parenting with a mix of absentee parenting or lenient style confuses a child.

Pushing of boundaries also happens. They are confused about what is expected of them and how to act as it creates miscommunication and gives mixed signals.

It also mixes cues on what the parent wants.

9. Avoiding rules or limits

Having rules, setting limits, following consistent routines, and offering limited choices will help a child to live in a scheduled way.

Children respond either by overstepping boundaries and have little to no respect for their parents or feel entitled and expect to get what they want even with poor behaviour, if rules are avoided or bent according to convenience.

10. Dual standards on expected behaviour 

Parents are role models for their children. Moral ethics and values are mirrored from their trusted adults.

Failing to lead by example fails to set an environment to learn what is acceptable and what isn't.

They miss on learning positive interpersonal skills. This hampers their bonds with self, with trusted adults and the world at large.

Mistakes help children to learn. Parents have made mistakes while bringing them up.

It's normal to want to protect children from the pain of making mistakes, but children need to make mistakes to grow, become resilient.

It can impact their development of emotional management and self-soothing skills.

Most parents wish for perfection, yet mistakes and pitfalls would come along the way. Parenting demands constantly evolving, changing and adaptation.

Effective parenting can be achieved by recognising common parenting mistakes and trying to prepare to address issues, to be open to recognise when one needs to take a different strategy or ask for help.

Dr Aarti Bakshi is a mother of 3 who feels blessed that each of her children talk of all that holds their attention.
A psychologist and school counsellor, Dr Bakshi has written a series of social emotional journals -- Learning Skills for LIFE -- for students of Classes 1-5, under SAAR education. She believes that with the right tools, children can create a kinder world.